The ELCA and Indigenous Peoples
This Declaration is presented as part of the implementation of the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly mandate in the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery “to repudiate explicitly and clearly the European-derived doctrine of discovery as an example of the ‘improper mixing of the power of the church and the power of the sword’ (Augsburg Confession Article XXVIII, Latin text), and to acknowledge and repent from this church’s complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas, which continue to harm tribal governments and individual tribal members.”
Memorial CA22.03.13 was passed at the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. This memorial builds on the efforts that have been made in the recent history of the ELCA that could make for a solid starting point in the movement to step the church closer to justice for Indigenous people and tribal nations.
Lutherans and Indigenous Peoples of North America
Lutherans tend to think of themselves as late-comers to the United States, arriving in the mid- to late-19th Century and disconnected from the settler colonial narrative. This is far from reality. Lutherans were part of the earliest delegations to "explore the new lands." They served in elected positions in the colonial and post-Revolution governments. They took an active role in colonizing the western margins as the US government pushed deeper and deeper inland, influencing US policy that set the course for American Indian peoples and settling in border lands, and they actively missionized the tribes in the frontier as well as stood alongside the American Indian Movement as Native Peoples fought for their civil rights.